March 18, 2019 / 11:37 AM / 3 months ago

US STOCKS-Futures tick higher after best week of the year; Boeing weighs on Dow

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* Futures: Dow dips 0.19 pct, S&P up 0.10 pct, Nasdaq up 0.12 pct

By Medha Singh

March 18 (Reuters) - U.S. stock futures eked out gains on Monday following the S&P and Nasdaq's strongest weekly gain this year, while investors waited for further details from a Federal Reserve policy meeting later this week.

The Dow futures were under pressure from shares of Boeing Co which slipped 3 percent in premarket trading after Ethiopia said an initial analysis of black boxes showed "clear similarities" in the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines plane with October's Lion Air crash.

Both planes were Boeing's money-spinning MAX 8s and concerns over the plane's safety led to its grounding around the world last week, wiping off nearly $24.6 billion from Boeing's market value.

At 7:07 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 48 points, or 0.19 percent.

S&P 500 e-minis were up 2.75 points, or 0.1 percent and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 8.75 points, or 0.12 percent.

In focus this week is the Federal Reserve's two-day policy meeting which begins on Tuesday, where the central bank is widely expected to stick to its pledge of a "patient" approach to monetary policy.

Investors will be looking for whether policymakers will have sufficiently lowered their interest rate forecasts to more closely align their "dot plot", a diagram showing individual policymakers' rate views for the next three years.

Also expected are more details on a plan to stop cutting the Fed's holdings of nearly $3.8 trillion in bonds.

Traders currently expect there will be no interest rate hikes this year, and are even building in bets for a rate cut in 2020.

This comes on the heels of a batch of weak economic data last week that validated the Fed's decision to remain less aggressive on raising rates which supported markets.

That added to hopes of a positive outcome from the ongoing U.S.-China trade talks and helped the S&P 500 and Nasdaq end last week at five-month highs and notch their best weekly gain this year.

The benchmark index now remains just 3.8 percent away from its September all-time closing high.

In economic news, the National Association of Home Builders' housing market index is expected to show a reading of 63 in March, up from 62 in February. The data is due at 10:00 a.m. ET. (Reporting by Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)

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